Closing thoughts

As the threat of social media censorship looms over Channel Sakura, there are other factors at play that could ensure its continued survival. First and foremost is its adaptability to change, which I have documented in the previous chapters of this book. Mizushima Satoru and other activists have built a cohesive organization that has consistently noticed and taken advantage of small opportunities to move forward while maintaining a base of loyal supporters who provide it with regular donations. Leaders, donors, and viewers were all part of a “grassroots revolution,” one that could shrug off frequent failures as the unavoidable consequence of just underdogs struggling against a society that had not yet awakened to the “truth” of their movement. Even in the face of a split between two leading figures - Mizushima and Tamogami - a large number of supporters remained loyal to Mizushima and Channel Sakura, and its viewer numbers have slowly but steadily grown.

Domestic and international political factors also favor the continuation of Channel Sakura and similar organizations. The LDP, Japan’s conservative ruling party, has not faced a major rival since it shattered the DPJ in the 2012 general election. With no viable alternative on the horizon, nationalist politicians within the LDP, many of whom regularly cooperate and support Channel Sakura, are likely to remain in office. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that these politicians, together with non-state actors like Channel Sakura, have contributed to Chinese and Korean perceptions of a Japan unwilling to atone for its historical wrongs. Channel Sakura’s boat activism near the Senkaku Islands, which has not gone unnoticed abroad, has added to tensions between Japan and China (see Chapter 7). Since many of Channel Sakura’s campaigns have centered around mobilizing negative feelings toward China and Korea, worsened relations with those countries will provide new reasons for activists to continue their struggle. While there is little to suggest that they will rise into a mass movement of millions and dominate Japan, I believe that the cases presented in this book show that small conservative activist groups have played and will continue to play a significant role in Japan’s domestic and international handling of historical and territorial issues.

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